A carbon footprint is measured by the “total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually express(ed) in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).” What this means is that, for example, when you drive your particular car, a particular distance, at a particular speed, the burning of the gas generates CO2; and how much CO2 your produce is your carbon footprint. Someone driving a Prius for 50 miles and at the speed limit will have less of a carbon footprint than the person driving a Hummer traveling the same distance at 7 miles over the speed limit.
Your meeting’s carbon footprint is a combination of the following:
- Is your group traveling by auto, bus, train, or plane? If they all hop in their cars (and carpool!), rather than travel by air, your meeting’s carbon footprint will be less. Holding a meeting closer than farther will also reduce the carbon footprint.
- Does the venue have a “green” attitude? Ask the venue contact if they have a recycling program; do they have programs in place to save on energy usage; and do they minimize the use of harmful/toxic chemicals in cleaning and laundry services.
- Are you attendees willing to forgo daily laundering of bedding, cleaning services, etc? Consider offering water service tables with water pitchers and glasses, as opposed to bottled water. Does the hotel use low flow toilets, showers, etc?
- Will you be utilizing meal service on site or within walking distance, therefore limiting the use of transportation? Does the venue offer locally sourced food options?
Some venues reward you for going green. Check out Starwood’s Sustainable Meetings. If you are interested in a glimpse of your event’s carbon footprint, check out MeetGreen and Terrapass’ carbon footprint calculator. Both companies are dedicated to making sustainable events attainable for all. The site also offers a calculator for individuals and businesses.
May your carbon footprint be low, and your green meeting success be high, Meeting Planner!